To the soldiers and sailors of the United States Army, Navy, Airforce, Marines, Coast Guard, Merchant Marine and Intelligence Services, who served in war and peacetime. To Rodney Brown (founder of the War Museum), Mark Hinton (Chairman, Board of Trustees, General George Patton Museum), Daniel Smith Sr. (military historian and author of U.S. Navy Sailors Memorabilia), and Tony Hyman (founder of the Cigar Museum). A special thank you to the over 1,000 servicemen and their families for their historical insight shared on the artifacts we acquired from them. Lastly, to my father, Don, and daughter, Daliah, who were the inspiration for this project.
Smoking and ashtrays date back to at least the 1500's. U.S. Military ashtrays date back to the founding of our nation, and reached their peak during WWII when our military was at its largest. The U.S. Navy produced the highest quantity and quality of military ashtrays, more than all other branches of service combined. They were able to do so because the of the fleet of navy repair ships which were equipped with the latest in equipment and skilled labor to make fast repairs to war damaged vessels. In their down time, navy machinists manufactured these American Treasures at the request of their Commanders.
Post WWII, democrat President Harry Truman reduced our military to a fraction of its wartime strength. Truman's actions emboldened the Russians, Chinese, North Koreans and our other enemies, quickly leading to the Korean War and other conflicts that have lasted until this very day. Additionally, while Truman was dismantling America's military, he simultaneously attempted to shut down the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Truman actually wrote a letter to the Director of the CIA stating that the agency was "no longer needed" and to "shut it down as soon as possible”. The original letter is kept at CIA Headquarters to this very day and is a reminder of his leadership follies, that culminated in relieving General Douglas MacArthur of command at the height of the conflicted his decisions provoked, the Korean War. From post WWII until the 2000's, and with the decline in the popularity of smoking, U.S. Military ashtrays were eventually discontinued. But for the incredible workmanship and materials that many were made from, they will survive indefinitely as a reminder of the greatest militray the world has known.
Military ashtrays were requested by and custom made for this nation's greatest Commanders during some of the world's most historic events and used aboard America’s most famous ships. They were displayed with pride, cherished, and used on a daily basis by our Commanders. They are aesthetically beautiful, creative and extremely durable. At the end of a command, these coveted artifacts were either taken home by the Commander or were gifted to loyal staff members, where they stayed for decades. They are extremely rare and, with their identifiable markings and the historical information attained from family members and military experts, their storied past comes back to life.